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can be heard discussing Positive Psychology here.


Your Childs’ Need for Nurturing Relationships

April, 2014

Consistent nurturing relationships are a necessity for the physical, emotional, social and intellectual health of your child. Although this might seem obvious to you, it is often taken for granted by many parents. As a result, they do not put this commonly known fact into practice. 

For your child to pass successfully through the many and varied stages of childhood, he or she requires sensitive and nurturing care from you to build his or her capacities for trust, empathy, and compassion.  Studies done in the interest of developing children found that family patterns which undermine nurturing care can lead to significant compromise not only in a child’s emotional capacities, but also in his cognitive ones.  In contrast, supportive, warm, nurturing emotional interactions help the child’s central nervous system to grow appropriately.

It turns out that interactive experiences in general are valuable because they result in brain cells being recruited for particular purposes. Listening to the human voice, for example, helps children learn to distinguish sounds and to develop language.   Exchanging emotional gestures helps children learn to perceive and respond to emotional cues and to form a sense of self. 

Through many and varied studies, scientists have found there really is a sensitive interaction between genetic tendencies and environmental experience. They have also found that in the process of growing up, not all experiences are the same.  The worse thing for a child is not having a loving person in her life or being uncertain about that person. Nurturing emotional relationships are the most crucial ones needed to provide a primary foundation for a child’s intellectual and social growth. 

At the most basic level, your caring relationship with your child fosters warmth, intimacy, and pleasure.  It also furnishes security and physical safety while it protects him or her from illness and injury.  Through your good care you also provide him with his basic needs for nutrition and housing. With your protection, you help him stay calm and alert.

Because of your empathetic, nurturing relationship, your child learns to be intimate and empathetic and eventually to communicate her feelings, reflect on her wishes, and develop her own relationships with peers and adults.   Your caring relationship also teaches her which behaviors are appropriate and which are not. She learns from your facial expressions tone of voice, gestures, and words, what kinds of behaviors lead to approval or disapproval.

Self-observation, an ability which is crucial in order for your child to monitor himself, will also develop within the context of a caring relationship with you.  Self-monitoring is essential for such simple activities as coloring inside or outside the lines or matching pictures with words or numbers and it will help your child to label rather than act out feelings, to empathize with others, and to meet appropriate expectations.  Your positive emotional interactions lead the way for these important things to develop. 

Positive interactions with your child will also help him to develop into a moral individual.  The ability to understand another person’s feelings and to care about how he or she feels arises only from the experience of nurturing interactions.  Your child will feel empathy only if you have been empathetic and caring with him.  Your child can learn to do “the right thing,” but truly caring for another person comes only through direct experience of that feeling of compassion from you. 

With the above examples I hope it is easy to for you to see that your child’s most important learning is provided by your caring interactions with him or her. There is no substitute and there are no short-cuts.  Objects and learning devices do not compare.  Your emotional tone and subtle interactions are vital to his clear sense of self-esteem, his caring for others, and his motivation to learn.  Take heed!  and take time out to have some positive interactions with your child today!



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